It’s looking more and more like – Saddam’s “last chance” wasn’t really his “last” chance–yet again. (via Yahoo! News)

The Bush foreign policy is quickly becoming a joke. He talks a tough game but, sadly, he doesn’t seem to have the fortitude to carry out his convictions. Comparing his bold words to Congress–and the American people–on September 20, 2001 with his actions since is disheartening.

And on behalf of the American people, I thank the world for its outpouring of support. America will never forget the sounds of our National Anthem playing at Buckingham Palace, on the streets of Paris, and at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate.

We will not forget South Korean children gathering to pray outside our embassy in Seoul, or the prayers of sympathy offered at a mosque in Cairo. We will not forget moments of silence and days of mourning in Australia and Africa and Latin America.

Where are they now? With the exception of the Brits and Australians, all of those mentioned in that sound byte now oppose our efforts. The French. The Germans. The South Koreans. Certainly the Egyptians and most of the Africans and Latin Americans. Had there been bold American leadership then–rather than squandering the empathy of 9/11 by tepid action for the past year and a half–it would have been much harder for France, et. al. to desert us.

We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest. And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. (Applause.) From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.

With the exception of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, these have been empty words.

Great harm has been done to us. We have suffered great loss. And in our grief and anger we have found our mission and our moment. Freedom and fear are at war. The advance of human freedom — the great achievement of our time, and the great hope of every time — now depends on us. Our nation — this generation — will lift a dark threat of violence from our people and our future. We will rally the world to this cause by our efforts, by our courage. We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail

Well, our willingness to cede our foreign policy to Colin Powell and the namby-pamby boys at the State Department hasn’t rallied the world. Fast, aggressive action in the face of the terrorist attacks of 9/11 would have been met with enthusiastic support by those people staging the rallies all over the world in our support. By failing to strike while the iron was hot, we squandered that outrage. Politics as usual has quickly returned, both domestically and internationally

With respect to Saddam, he was declared to be the ringleader of an Axis of Evil well over a year ago.

States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic.

We will work closely with our coalition to deny terrorists and their state sponsors the materials, technology, and expertise to make and deliver weapons of mass destruction. We will develop and deploy effective missile defenses to protect America and our allies from sudden attack. (Applause.) And all nations should know: America will do what is necessary to ensure our nation’s security.

We’ll be deliberate, yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events, while dangers gather [emphasis added]. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons. (GWB–January 29, 2002)

But we have been standing by for thirteen months, during which all three Axis states have increased their WMD capability. We’ve already backed down in North Korea. We’ve been dithering over Iraq for months. It has now been six weeks since Bush declared Saddam had “weeks, not months” to disarm. Frankly, I fear that all the words about building democracies in the Middle East are just rhetoric, too.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.